Ready for golf sea­son

Af­ter big 3, North Point look­ing to fill gaps

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By MICHAEL REID mreid@somd­news.com

North Point al­ways seems to field a deep, ta­lented team, but this year the Ea­gles will be thin­ner. At least in North Point terms.

Though the Ea­gles lost se­nior Kent Ka­menicky to grad­u­a­tion, North Point re­turns All-South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence first-team­ers Trent Tyer, Matt Za­b­ie­gal­ski and Im­manuel Ri­casa. Af­ter them is where the Ea­gles are thin.

“Typ­i­cally we have pretty good years be­cause we usu­ally go pretty deep with our play­ers and their skills run pretty deep usu­ally, [but] this year we will be a bit thin­ner,” said North Point head coach Chuck Skin­ner, who is en­ter­ing his sixth sea­son. “We re­al­ize we’ll start to feel it around No. 4 or 5 whereas in the past we could go six or seven deep, so we do see a weak­ness in the bot­tom of our order. We do have some young ath­letes who did get some ex­pe­ri­ence last year and we hope that

will bear out some good re­sults for us as a team. Right now we’re re­ly­ing on the strength of our top three to carry the rest through the SMAC reg­u­lar sea­son and get us into tour­na­ment play.”

Last sea­son North Point shot 35 strokes bet­ter than any other county team at the District IV tour­na­ment, qual­i­fy­ing for a state tour­na­ment bid. The team won the county cham­pi­onship by 20 strokes and the SMAC tour­na­ment by 25. North Point, which fin­ished in a three-way tie with Hunt­ing­town and North­ern for the reg­u­lar sea­son ti­tle, fin­ished 41-2 over­all.

“Win­ning’s im­por­tant at North Point I think be­cause it proves all the hard work you’ve done, but we also spend a lot of time on char­ac­ter build­ing and we in­sist on qual­ity grades,” said Skin­ner, whose team posted a 4.05 GPA last year. “I think with good grades and good char­ac­ter it comes out to the golf course and we see the re­sults there as well; hard work, ded­i­ca­tion and com­mit­ment and when those things come to­gether you have a pretty good golf game with the prac­tice.”

And it helps to have a Big 3 in Za­b­ie­gal­ski, Tyer and Ri­casa.

Za­b­ie­gal­ski, a ris­ing se­nior, had a 39.8 nine­hole av­er­age last year and placed sec­ond at the Charles County tour­na­ment with a 77. He was sixth at the District IV tour­na­ment (76), tied for seventh at SMAC (86) and shot an 85 at the state tour­na­ment.

“As the lead­ers of the team we have to teach the not-as-ex­pe­ri­enced golfers so we can move for­ward as a team,” Za­b­ie­gal­ski said. “We don’t feel as much [pres­sure] be­cause we feel like we can have an­other cou­ple of scores come in be­hind us and hope­fully do well through­out the year.”

Tyer, whose nine-hole av­er­age was 40.4 in 2015, tied for third at SMAC with a 83, was fourth at the county tour­na­ment (79) and also shot 85 at states.

“I’m go­ing to say ex­cited,” Tyer said of his thoughts on the up­com­ing sea­son, which be­gins at 4 p.m. to­day at Bre­ton Bay Golf & Coun­try Club in Leonard­town against North­ern, Lackey and host Leonard­town. “I think we have a solid group of golfers and I think if we all play our own games and stay con­sis­tent, we’ll have a solid sea­son.”

Ri­casa, who av­er­aged 44 last year, shot an 83 at SMAC, 84 at states, 86 at districts and 87 at the county tour­na­ment.

“It’s im­por­tant for all of us to be con­sis­tent be­cause if any one of us isn’t in gear, all of us won’t per­form or play well,” he said dur­ing a break dur­ing a re­cent prac­tice at Po­tomac Ridge Golf Course in Wal­dorf. “It’s im­por­tant all of us are at the best of our abil­ity and do­ing our best for our team.”

Skin­ner said he has three or four golfers vy­ing for the open slots, but added that ris­ing ju­nior Gar­rett Hayes is the “fron­trun­ner” for the No. 4 spot.

“Ob­vi­ously with the hole at No. 4 I need to count on those three to be pretty con­sis­tent and our plan is based on num­bers,” Skin­ner said. “In the past, we’ve had eight golfers who were able to shoot un­der 40, now we have three. We don’t have much room for slip­ping. One bad hole can re­ally hurt us more so now.”

On Hayes, he said, “He’s got a lot more dis­tance on his drives and we ac­tu­ally through the process of try­ing him out found a ma­jor prob­lem with his game and fixed it,” Skin­ner said. “We’re also see­ing more ma­ture de­ci­sions from him. Last year we didn’t get to see him a lot, but this year hope­fully we’ll see more of him.”

Tyer for one would like to see the Ea­gles do even bet­ter this sea­son but said he isn’t ner­vous.

“I don’t think there’s a ton of pres­sure; I just think we know what to do,” he said. “We have to get the job done. Sim­ple as that.”

And then Tyer stepped up to the tee and crushed a shot down the fair­way.

STAFF PHOTO BY MICHAEL REID

North Point is count­ing on Im­manuel Ri­casa, left, Matt Za­b­ie­gal­ski and Trent Tyer to lead the way in 2016.

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